|Natural Disasters, States, and Societies in Asia and the Pacific - Past and Present
Just as the progress of a disease shows a doctor the secret life of a body," so too "the progress of a great calamity yields valuable information about the nature of a society.
Natural Disasters, States, and Societies in Asia and the Pacific is a key research project of the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine at the University of Hong Kong.
As the Kobe Earthquake (1995), Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004), Sichuan Earthquake (2008) and Cyclone Nargis (2008) have demonstrated in recent times, the Asia Pacific Region is highly prone to catastrophic natural phenomena. Researchers in the CHM Natural Disaster research project share a common goal: to explore how naturaldisasters (earthquakes, tsunami, cyclones, volcanic eruptions) have shaped and continue to influence states, societies, the built and natural environment, communities, and people throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Natural disasters and responses to these events, as our work illustrates, provide windows into the past and present of many communities. Disasters yield unique insights into human nature, cultural and social constructions, and many of the key relationships - between man, nature, the built environment, state, and even the cosmos - that help define human existence.
Our historical projects challenge individuals to engage with the following questions:
Beyond the historical insight gained by studying disasters of the past, our projects also examine how people, societies, and governments have responded to natural disasters in the world today. Our projects explore how governments and ruling elites have attempted to use subsequent reconstruction processes to redevelop landscapes, remake societies, and reorder politics in opportunistic and manipulative fashions.
In doing so, we engage with contemporary issues such as: